Divorce is probably the most emotional and dramatic event somebody will go through. From a legal standpoint a divorce, also known as a Dissolution of Marriage, is effectively a division of a family’s assets and liabilities, an allocation of time as it relates to the minor children. It is also a process by which the spouse who is in the least fortunate financial position has an opportunity to receive financial support from the other party in the form of child support to help with the cost of raising their children and/or spousal support to help sustain them for a reasonable length of time.
As family law attorneys, we understand our clients are going through a very hard time in their lives and our goal is to aggressively, yet cost effectively, represent them in a manner they can get in and get out and move on with their lives. For that purpose we try to balance the need to be done as quickly as possible with the need to do a thorough job to get the best result possible.
Contested Versus Uncontested Divorce
Contested divorces are cases in which the spouses have a disagreement when it comes to some issues, example: how the house will be divided, who will have the children and when, etc… In an uncontested divorce however, the couple has come to an agreement on how they will resolve these matters. Uncontested divorces are more streamlined, and therefore they can be completed much faster.
Complex Family Law Cases
A client can have little to no asset yet have a highly complex case because children are involved and there is a litigation around custody. For example one parent may live in France while the other lives in Orange County, we could have an international custody battle in such case. Another example is a domestic violence issue that relates to custody. A third example is a move-away case in which one parent may want to move out of state to join their family because the other parent is not providing enough support.
Executive Divorce, Orange County
There is a very specific way to manage high-asset divorces. A standard divorce where you have one house, two kids, and perhaps one 401k plan will be different from handling a case where there couple has high and/or complex financial assets.
To represent such clients effectively requires unique knowledge and experience. At Stabile & Moshtael, many of our clients have high assets and/or are high income earners. We have knowledge of taxation law along with a very solid grasp on financial issues; we have a deep understanding of property issues such as title issues; over the years we have developed the connections and relationships with the appropriate financial experts a client can hire to help with the computation of income analysis, standard living analysis, marital balance sheets, and more; we have specific knowledge on discovery, there are specific discovery tools and motions to file which you would not utilize in a standard case.
Divorce Time & Legal Cost
How long a divorce will take to complete is simply unknown at the beginning of the process. The same is true for how much a divorce will cost. Every case is different and there is no way to know with certainty. For example assume a divorce case which is uncontested, both parties walk in and the divorce attorney can only represent one. In such case the family law attorney may offer a set fee, but 99% of the time (at least with reputable family law attorneys) the client will be charged by the hour. The fees are a function of time and since no one knows how long a divorce will take to complete, by consequence it is impossible to answer with how much the legal process will cost the client. Divorce attorneys can control their conduct, and the conduct of their office, they can also have limited influence on their client’s conduct, however they cannot control the opposing party and their lawyer. Every time the opposite side takes a legal step, they need to respond.
Often time clients will have inconsistent visions. They will want to hire an aggressive lawyer, yet they want the lowest legal fees simultaneously. As a client who wants a practice and aggressive attorney should be prepared to spend more money, and expect their fees to be higher than normal because they are going to be on a more accelerated path as opposed to moving at normal pace.
Our goal is to always complete the divorce as quickly and thoroughly as possible, however many factors can reduce the pace of the process including the fact that judges in Orange County are usually overworked. You can ask for a trial date and the Court can set it 5 months from now. In this case the time it takes to complete the divorce is no longer a function of the attorney, or the client, or the opposing party, but simply a function of the court system being backed up, which in a way forces people to settle.
At Stabile & Moshtael, one way in which we help our clients financially is by setting up a monthly budget. We send our clients an email every month in which we advise our anticipated legal costs for next month based upon what has been occurring in their case and what we expect to do the following month. This is just an estimate and we ask our clients if they are comfortable with the budget.